AUGUSTA, Ga. – Firework enthusiasts are planning to celebrate this fourth of July holiday with a bigger bang than usual in commemoration of the nation’s birth and the new Georgia law that goes into effect on July 1st.
According to Georgia House Bill 110, licensed businesses can sell fireworks that were previously banned in the state. In an effort to protect citizens, and remain in compliance with state law, the Augusta Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau will be strictly enforcing the rules established for retailers.
“Illegal and improper sale of fireworks can be dangerous for people of all ages. “Our fire inspectors have gained the required training to make sure retailers are compliant in accordance to the new law in order to better protect local residents,” says Fire Marshal Chief Jason Beard.
Businesses that sell the fireworks must be licensed by the state of Georgia and pay licensing fees. A license costs $5,000 for each retail store. Aside from paying the allocated fees, businesses that have been granted licenses must undergo building inspections by the Augusta Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau. The businesses must also pay an excise tax of five percent on every sale which is in addition to state and local sales tax. Buyers must be at least 18 years old to purchase the newly legal fireworks. So far, Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club and Costco are the only retailers that have permits to sell newly approved aerial type fireworks in their Augusta stores. TNT Fireworks has permits to sell at two Augusta locations which include the former Sports Authority building on Robert C. Daniel Parkway. The Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner has approved a license for Fireworks over America of South Carolina, Incorporated. However, the company has not obtained a license to sell the aerial fireworks in the city of Augusta. Stores cannot carry more than 1,000 pounds of aerial type fireworks inside their buildings. Violators of the law will be given a written citation and fined through magistrate court.
Here is a list of consumer fireworks that can now be sold in Georgia:
- Sky Rockets and Battle Rockets
- Missile-Type Rockets
- Helicopter and Aerial Spinners
- Roman Candles
- Multi-Aerial Mine and Shell Devices
- Aerial Shell Kits
Fireworks can only be used between 10:00 a.m. and midnight. The law prohibits the possession of fireworks in school zones, at school functions or on school buses. Fireworks cannot be used within 100 feet of a gas station. Temporary stands can begin selling the newly legal fireworks on January 1, 2016. They must obtain the appropriate license and pay a $500 fee prior to that date.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) thousands of people, mostly children and teens, are injured across the country while using consumer fireworks during the fourth of July. The Augusta Fire Department recommends the following safety tips when dealing with fireworks:
- Children and teens should not use fireworks without adult supervision.
- Do not hold aerial fireworks. Place them on the ground for launching.
- After the fireworks display, children should never pick up fireworks that may be left over. They may still be active.